Mentoring to Take Charge

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WAAPP boss Cyrus Sargbe .jpg

The Coordinator of the Liberia office of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP), Mr. Cyrus Sargbe, has called for young Liberian scientists, who have returned from studies abroad and are working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, to be properly mentored to take charge of the sector in the next few years.
Mr. Sargbe said young Liberian scientists, who are working as apprentices under Ministry of Agriculture’s (MOA) implementing partners, AfricaRice, must play leading a role in the field during the learning period, because when the mentors leave, they will have to rise to the occasion.
The MOA through its implementing partners, Africa Rice Center (Africa Rice) and The Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) with support from WAAPP, are leading the country’s rice development program.
The program is intended to improve the rice production in the country and reduce its dependency on the importation of the commodity.
“When we come on the field, we want to see the Liberians carrying out the demonstration exercises in order to convince us that when you are gone they will be able to take charge of the sector. I really want to see them at the forefront of the various exercises, because when this is done, we will know how far we have gone in this project,” the WAAPP Coordinator said.
He made these remarks during a tour of AfriaRice’s rice demonstration site at CARI’s headquarters in Suakoko, Bong County over the weekend. The tour was led by WAAP in collaboration with a representative of the World Bank, a major financier of the project.
Agriculture, notably food sufficiency is one of two priority sectors of the World Bank’s regional strategies because, according to the bank, the sector provides the source of livelihoods for almost two-thirds of the population in Africa. The bank believes that its intervention would bring about high poverty reduction on the majority of the population.
The Country Representative of AfricaRice, Dr. Inousa Akintayo, took the two officials and their teams on a sight-seeing expedition to many of interventions in the county, including the lowland rice varietal development and testing segregating population for yield, demonstration of improved upland rice varieties treatment sponsored by WAAPP and the AfricaRice Center-Liberia Station at CARI.
The first phase of the WAAPP project in the country is about to elapse and Mr. Sargbe told the experts from AfricaRice to make more use of the young people so that they can drink from the organization’s fountain of knowledge.
The WAAPP boss was impressed by a splendid presentation made by a local scientist at the Rice Demonstration Plot. The presenter, Joseph Ndebe, spoke about the 20 varieties of improved rice that are being processed to be distributed to farmers across the country.
World Bank Senior Agricultural Specialist, Abimbola Adubi, also stressed that the level of capacity at CARI is very low and as such there is a need for more scientists at the institution. He said Liberia, as a country, needs more scientists that will work in the research department in order to improve the sector.
Liberia currently has about four PhD holders at the nation’s premier research institute, CARI, and Mr. Adubi noted that the situation is pathetic, though he acknowledged that the country has been through a lot of crisis.
“To have three or four PhDs in a research institution is not enough, the least should be twenty. This is because this is a technical area that requires a lot of knowledgeable people,” Mr. Adubi said, calling on AfricaRice to ensure that all is done for the country to reach that benchmark.
Dr. Akintayo also lauded the students for the swift pace at which they are learning on the field. The AfricaRice boss, who has worked in Liberia’s rice sector for the last thirty years, firstly with ADA and then AfricaRice, said the country is actually improving in the sector.

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